This Thanksgiving I am sending someone I love a handwritten thank-you note and doing something that you may find silly (or maybe not).
In years past, I used to write Thanksgiving posts about topics more easily tied to the environment like consumerism and green actions that you and I can do. Then there was the year my family saved me from writing about food waste.
Nowadays at Thanksgiving, I find myself pondering the interconnectedness of humans and the rest of nature or how I can put forth my kindest self every day. That is the person that I, you, and everyone else needs to bring to the table if we are to heal ourselves and Earth, the place we all call home.
This year gratitude is on my mind.
I believe everyone appreciates being appreciated. I know I do. Showing gratitude by saying “Thank you.” is easy and free. Yet, sometimes in our society, it seems like we are all so busy, rushed, and frazzled that we forget who and what we have to be grateful for or to thank the people in our lives.
Maybe all we need to get back on track is a friendly reminder and a little practice.
This year for my Thanksgiving post I knew I wanted to write about gratitude and to encourage readers to take a specific gratitude-related action. But what?
Then a few weeks ago, I was reading Elizabeth Kubey’s “Kids’ Corner” column in the fall issue of Flora, a quarterly magazine published by the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) of which I am a member. Even though my kids are grown, I always enjoy reading Elizabeth’s column. It is filled with educational and fun activities and she has a delightful kid-friendly writing style.
The “Kids’ Corner” fall column had several activities for kids to learn about chlorophyll and photosynthesis. The item that caught my eye was entitled Thank-you plants! It involved asking kids to write several thank-you notes. One thanking a native plant, one as if they were a native plant thanking a part of the ecosystem, and perhaps one to a family member. Photo —Elizabeth Kubey/CNPS.
I instantly thought, “That’s it. I want to share this idea in my Thanksgiving post.”
Since it was Elizabeth’s idea, I contacted her to thank her and ask her permission to share her idea and to use the thank-you note. She agreed.
I Used to Write Thank-You Notes
One of the many things that my mother taught me as a kid was how to write a handwritten thank-you note. My brother and sister learned, too. We were expected to write thank-you notes when someone had given us a gift even if we had thanked the gift giver in person. I do not remember if there was any wheedling involved, but she probably had to remind us to write them, at least sometimes.
I carried the thank-you note habit into adulthood writing thank-you notes for birthday, wedding, baby, and holiday gifts and occasionally for another reason like thanking an interviewer after a job interview.
There was always a box or two of thank-you note cards in a desk drawer at home.
Once, when I was preparing to leave a company that I had worked with for a long time, I wrote a thank-you note to every employee. That was over 300 thank-you notes.
Now, I have mostly fallen out of the habit of writing thank-you notes. The demise of my thank-you note writing may have coincided with the decision my spouse and I made in 2013 to stop the practice of obligatory gift-giving and receiving as part of our effort to live more lightly on the planet.
And yet, there are many, many people and things to be thankful for that do not involve exchanging gifts. Can my lapsed thank-you note habit be resuscitated and reimagined? I think it can.
Thank-You Note for a Person
To me, Thanksgiving seems like an ideal time to write a handwritten thank-you note.
I hope you will join me in writing a thank-you note sometime during this week to a family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker, or anyone for that matter thanking them for, well, anything.
You and everyone else may have a lot going on this week such as preparing to host a Thanksgiving feast at your home, getting ready to travel, or cramming five days of work into three days. Some of you may be steeling yourself for working on Black Friday.
So, let’s keep it simple and agree that we will not agonize over writing a thank-you note. We will write from our hearts without worrying about spelling, grammar, and punctuation (at least not too much).
If you do not have a box of thank-you note cards stuck in the back of a drawer, no worries. Any kind of card will do and you can easily pick one up at almost any store including a grocery market.
The thank-you note that I wrote is winging its way to my mother; however, she will probably not have received it before reading this post.
Thank-You Note for a Plant or Animal
Now for the silly part that I mentioned earlier.
The first native plant I ever grew from a seed was a California Buckwheat which I named Becky. I am one of those people who anthropomorphize plants and animals. It helps me appreciate and connect with other parts of nature.
Even though Elizabeth’s Thank-you plants! is not related to Thanksgiving, I do not think she will mind if you and I appropriate her format to thank a fellow member of nature.
My native plant thank-you note is for Becky. As you can see I kept it short and sweet. Protected by a plastic bag it is mounted on a bamboo stick left from our Monterey pine seedling growing project. I placed it in the yard with Becky. This will remind me to thank the plant every time I pass by.
If you would like to join me in this endeavor, I feel certain there is a plant or animal living near you that would love to receive a thank-you note.
For good measure on Thanksgiving, I think I will go hug a few trees.
Featured Image at Top: Thanksgiving still life with thank-you note card – Photo credit iStock/CatLane.
- 4th of July – Patriotism and the Environment
- 4th of July – What Does it Mean to be an American?
- Can Spreading Happiness Save the World?
- Frozen Pizza, Climate Change, and Community
- Let’s Take Back Thanksgiving – Opt Out of Consumerism
- Make Thanksgiving Count
- Moving Beyond Sustainability to Thrivability
- The Book of Joy – Book Review
- The First Thanksgiving was a Green Event
- Thanksgiving – Kindness and Happiness
- Thanksgiving Reflections – What are You For?
- Thanksgiving – We are All Connected